17th July 2023
DAVIES WINS FIFTH WORLD SHOT PUT TITLE AS GB&NI END ON A HIGH WITH 29 MEDALS
Aled Davies (coach: Ryan Spencer-Jones, club: Cardiff) completed a decade of dominance in the men’s F63 shot put at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, becoming the ninth British athlete to win gold while a trio of bronze medals from Danny Sidbury (Chris Parsloe, Sutton & District), Kevin Santos (Mike Utting, City of Norwich) and Maria Lyle (Team East Lothian) ensured the British team end with a total of 29 medals.
Davies, competing in the shot put for just the fourth time this year and fifth time since retaining his Paralympic title in Tokyo September 2021, won his fifth successive world title in the event dating back to Lyon in 2013, with a fifth-round best of 16.16m on his return to France.
That came in the very first final of the final night for the British team with Sidbury then starting a bronze rush as he finished third in the men’s T54 800m by less than a tyre’s width, Santos split a Brazilian clean sweep in the men’s T47 100m and Lyle brought proceedings to a close with a brilliant run in the women’s T35 100m.
Nathan Maguire (Ste Hoskins, Kirkby AC) and Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker (Nat Senior, Newham & Essex Beagles) were fifth and seventh in the men’s T54 800m and men’s T47 100m respectively.
Gold for Davies and bronzes for Sidbury, Santos and Lyle on the final night in the French capital ensured the British team, just over a year out from the next Paralympics in Paris, ended with 29 medals from these World Championships – ten gold, eight silver and 11 bronze – surpassing their medal haul from the previous edition in Dubai in 2019
Davies said: “The performance probably wasn’t my best, but after the winter I’ve had it was all about just holding it together out there. I think my coach will be quite frustrated, but we know what I’m capable of doing and I guess after the disruptive winter I’ve had I’m just happy I can defend my title.
“It was going to be hit and miss whether I was going to be here and there’s no way I could have sat at home and just forfeited a title – I’m glad I could come here and defend it. I put together a 16m throw which was good enough today, but I’ll be back next year for the big throw.”
Davies spent almost all of last year competing in the discus, winning the Commonwealth title in Birmingham, but has done nothing but shot put so far in 2023 and was impressive in the defence of his world title in Paris.
An opening throw of 15.02m gave him a lead he would never relinquish with Davies breaking 16m after a second-round foul with a mark of 16.11m in the third round. A foul in the fourth round preceded his best throw of 16.16m in round five.
Davies completed his competition with a foul as he won by almost two metres – a fifth global title in the shot put added to the three he has in the discus, meaning he is now an eight-time world champion as well as a three-time Paralympic gold medallist.
Davies added: “As an athlete I’ve always thought about delivering the performance. In London 2017 when I threw my personal best in front of a home crowd, I knew that was what it was all about, that was what all the hard work was for and that was what I wanted.
“I’ve strived for that ever since and there’s been a lot of ups and downs, like any athlete’s journey it’s never plain sailing. What motivates me is I know I’ve got much bigger throws, I know that that world record’s going to go, I know I can throw 18, 19 metres and that’s what I’m aiming for now.
“I’ve told my coach that’s the aim. I want to come back next year and throw a personal best – a world record, in Paris, at the Paralympic Games and absolutely obliterate that Paralympic record once and for all.”
Sidbury and Maguire would have both fancied their chances in the men’s T54 800m final and were seventh and fifth respectively as the field came together on the first lap. The British pair had switched positions by the bell as Sidbury went in pursuit of that second medal in Paris.
He moved up to fourth as he began making his move before the back straight before going wide around the final bend and giving his all to reel in China’s Hu Yang, who had been occupying second up to that point, over the last 100m.
Sidbury was joined by Faisal Al-Rajehi in reeling in Yang and while the Kuwaiti athlete got ahead of him to take silver behind winner Swiss legend Marcel Hug, the Brit was forced into an agonising wait for the result after just catching the Chinese athlete at the line.
Both were awarded a time of 1:29.72 minutes but it was Sidbury who was awarded bronze, his second of the Championships after the 5000m last week while he was also sixth in the 1500m and fourth in the 400m. Maguire meanwhile had been shaping well in that men’s T54 800m final but had to settle for fifth behind teammate Sidbury and Yang in 1:30.12.
Sidbury said: “It has been enjoyable. There have been ups and downs. It is very much redemption after the 1500m because that is more my distance, the 800m is my least favourite.
“I am really happy to have pulled it out of the bag, but it doesn’t get much closer than that. It was the identical time to Hu Yang so it was down to the thousandths of a second. That was very much a coin toss and regrettably for him he drew the short straw.
“Two medals is two more than I thought. My coach and I, we are quite ambitious and we did have the ambition to maybe get one medal if we were lucky. I knew that would be quite a tall order so the fact that we have managed to scrape two together – you can see what it means to her.”
In the penultimate final involving British athletes, the form suggested the podium could be swept by Brazilian athletes in the men’s T47 100m final with Santos and Oyinbo-Coker aiming to disrupt the party.
Both got off to great starts as the field was in a line through the first 20m. It did look as if the Brazilian sweep would happen at the halfway stage, but Santos tremendously chased down Washington Junior to claim bronze in 10.85 seconds.
The wait after the finish wasn’t quite as long as it was for Sidbury but Santos had to hold his breath for bronze ahead of Junior and behind Brazilian duo Petrucio Ferreira and Jose Martins to be confirmed.
Santos celebrated his first world medal on his debut with a backflip on the track while teammate Oyinbo-Coker, who was also making his maiden World Championship final appearance on his debut, placed seventh in 11.20.
Santos said: “It is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I knew I had the potential to medal – I just had to execute – although I didn’t execute the race I wanted to. I know I have got things to work on for the future. My body just gave out at 70m and I didn’t think I was going to medal.
“I just kept the pace going and trusted myself that I could win a dip if it came to that. I don’t know how close it was between me and fourth but I did know it was close because I didn’t think I even made it.
“They [the Brazilian athletes] have got really fast PBs – 10.29, 10.5 and 10.7 – which are all out of my fastest times at the minute. To break that Brazilian trio means a lot. Everyone did think it was going to be a Brazilian trio and I was the only hope to break it.”
With Santos’ effort bringing the British team equal to the medal haul they won at the last World Championships in Dubai four years ago, it was on Lyle to make sure it was surpassed – and she produced a great run to do just that in the women’s T35 100m.
With Chinese pair Zhou Xia and Guo Qianqian flying to gold and silver respectively, Lyle’s battle for bronze was with Fatimah Suwaed of Iraq. The Brit was behind at halfway but produced a superb second 50m to pass her rival and clock 14.76 for bronze, also her second in Paris after the same outcome in the 200m.
She said: “I am so happy. As I have said [at these Championships], I have not had the greatest lead up. I have really pushed for that bronze and I am very thankful to the team that have got me around here – Joe McDonnell has taken me in at the very last minute before the Champs and has got me into good shape.
“It [the British team’s performance] has been amazing. To see the depth that we have in the GB&NI team – we have got people have been on the team for years still delivering and new members as well now, much younger than myself. It is great to see the talent of GB para athletics. It is all looking positive for the Paralympics next year.”
The Great Britain and Northern Ireland medallists:
GOLD:  Gavin Drysdale [Men’s T72 100m], Jonathan Broom-Edwards [Men’s T64 high jump], Sabrina Fortune [Women’s F20 shot put], Hollie Arnold [Women’s F46 javelin], Hannah Cockroft [Women’s T34 100m, Women’s T34 800m], Sammi Kinghorn [Women’s T53 100m], Daniel Pembroke [Men’s F13 javelin], Ben Sandilands [Men’s T20 1500m], Aled Davies [Men’s F63 shot put]
SILVER:  Rafi Solaiman [Men’s T72 100m], Sammi Kinghorn [Women’s T53 800m, Women’s T53 400m], Kare Adenegan [Women’s T34 100m, Women’s T34 800m], Olivia Breen [Women’s T38 long jump], Michael Jenkins [Men’s F38 shot put], Universal 4x100m relay
BRONZE:  Zac Shaw [Men’s T12 100m], Danny Sidbury [Men’s T54 5000m, Men’s T54 800m], Maria Lyle [Women’s T35 200m, Women’s T35 100m], Sophie Hahn [Women’s T38 100m, Women’s T38 200m], Fabienne André [Women’s T34 100m], Dan Greaves [Men’s F64 discus], Zak Skinner [Men’s T13 long jump], Kevin Santos [Men’s T47 100m]
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